Movies about the day to day realities of working people are few and far between. In an industry that is inundated with comic book movies, and sequels, it takes a lot for such a film to stand out.
Fortunately, Sorry to Bother You stands out in various ways. Starring Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius Green, we see a young man working to make headway as a telemarketer. Directed by Boots Riley, who is from the Oakland based rap group The Coup, this film offers a different take on what the world of work means for Black people.
Cassius struggles initially, netting no customers. It’s only through the suggestion of one of his co-workers that he adjust by using his “white voice” that things begin to turn around for him.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? All is well, until conditions at the company compel many working there to organize for better wages. Now Cassius finds himself in a quandary: does he concern himself with his own come up, or stay in the fight with his fellow workers?
Encouraged by his desire to see his life conditions change for the better, he decides to move forward. In embracing doing what he had to do, he typifies the refrain of “Get your money, Black man” from Childish Gambino’s “This is America” We see that Cassius follows the individualistic road, but at a great cost.
Sorry to Bother You is a commentary on the conflict that can arise within a person when it comes to the approach of “going for self” vs. collective struggle. It deals a lot with the reality of Toxic Ambition, a concept that has recently been explored by Antonio Moore of Tone Talks.
“Sorry to Bother You” is a trip of a film. A lot of messages about integrity and what it means to sell out. It shows how enticing the trappings of prestige are and the desire of people to avoid undue suffering can distort ones ethics.
Touching upon issues of wage slavery, racism, and poverty in a memorable and pointed way is no small feat. Boots Riley pulls it off here, showing his worldview and the reality of so many of us at the same time.
Sorry to Bother You gets weird as hell with The Island of Dr. Moreau twist towards the end of the film. You’ll understand what I mean when you see it. It took away a bit from the film plot and made it absurd. But, in a way, it’s a commentary on the monstrosities that are created by our capitalistic society.
This is a film I recommend seeing. It’s perfect for a discussion group.